Brooks says that Stepan doesn’t have arbitration rights, and unless something forces the issue, the contract talks could drag into September and maybe into training camp.
Brooks writes in the Post that the Rangers and Mats Zuccarello are trying to hammer out a deal to avoid arbitration.
He notes that under the new CBA a team can not walk away from an arbitration award that is less than $3.5 million.
Zuccarello has denied that he is looking for something close to $2 million, which Brooks notes again. Brooks says that the Rangers want Zuccarello at “considerably less” than what he is reportedly looking for.
Adam Rotter: I expect the Rangers and Zuccarello to come to terms before arbitration and for them to sign Stepan way before training camp starts. The Rangers usually take their time when signing RFAs but Ryan McDonagh was a priority and things with Carl Hagelin may have come together quicker. Stepan is a core piece but the Rangers didn’t sign Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky (in 2011) until late July and Marc Staal didn’t sign his new deal until September, days before training camp, in 2010. The Rangers are trying to find ways to maximize their cap space and get these two players under contract. It will happen, but maybe not as soon as some of us think it should.